Beren and Luthien - My TV Pitch

So as mentioned elsewhere, I've been taking an MA in screenwriting. While at the moment I am working on my own original horror features, I started the course by challenging myself to write a script using a pre-existing work as a basis. I chose to use the story of Beren & Luthien. I found it had a great central premise but with lots of space for character growth.

For me, the big focus was to make my two central protagonists just that. I wanted them to be two fully formed people apart from one another. It was important to not only have the fairy tale element of a brave knight meeting a radiant maiden in a forest and pursuing her till she relented. I wanted these to feel like real humans with goals, desires, flaws and fears.

I also wanted to understand why two so wildly different people would connect. So I went looking for the connections in their past. I found fathers. Both of their fathers loom large in history and as presences in their lives. This seemed really interesting to me. And both fathers are rulers. That comes with its own baggage. For Beren, the baggage is clear. He starts of trying to avenge his father. That invited lots of complex emotions. It got more interesting when I poked it a bit and found it would be an even more intriguing challenge for Beren if actually he had a better relationship with his absent mother. If he never truly connected with his father, then avenging him is an extension of trying to earn his favour (in Beren's eyes). For Luthien, I wanted her to have a lot of agency. For me, giving her an interest in the outside world and humans in particular put her in real contrast to her isolationist father. This took the form of protecting a group of humans who stumble into Doriath to escape orcs. In secret, she defies her father's edict and decides to provide aid and safe passage in secret. So they both have fathers they are finding it hard to understand and connect with. And yet, they are from such different worldviews that even when they start falling for each other, those differences don't go away. They can still clash and spark and have drama.

For me, I realised the easiest way to see them on their own is to give them separate focus. They need to be their own people. So I settled on a format of each episode coming from one of their perspectives. Almost like how each episode of LOST focused on one character. But here I only have two to juggle. That way, hopefully, the audience can see them each as an individual. And then the viewer really wants to see them come together but that keeps getting teased as things come in their way.

So anyway, that's the primary focus and how the format helped with that. Other characters sort of spin out from that central focus. The main enemy of the series is Sauron and he similarly, in my version, has a difficult relationship with Sauron whom he is desperate to please. I very much took this as an abusive lover dynamic, in which Sauron is infatuated with Morgoth but Morgoth has little regard to Sauron. This is Sauron's dark freedom story as he grows out of his ruler's shadow and becomes his own, awful, person.

The fact I was pitching this as a multi-season series focusing on Beren and Luthien gave me lots of space to explore these dynamics and to pull in stuff that isn't in the text but I found interesting. Brethil plays a part and so does Emeldir later on. Daeron becomes this dark obsessive stalker of Luthien, Saeros (who is now Daeron's brother) and I just leaned into the Mablung/Beleg relationship and made them lovers with divided loyalties.

If any of that is of interest, please feel free to read the attached 'Series Bible' laying out how the series should be tackled. I've also attached scripts for the first two episodes which focus on establishing Beren and Luthien in their own right.

This was written entirely unrelated to SilmFilm but if anyone can glean anything of use from it then feel free. I know it veers pretty far from the direction of the project but wanted to get it up here for consideration.

I will also say, the scripts themselves are at least 10 pages to long but I've since put it to bed so am not bothered about editing at this point. So just pretend they are shorter lol

Season One is the death of Barahir to the commissioning of the Quest for the Silmaril.
Season Two would end with the defeat of Sauron.
Season Three would be everything up to the end of the story.


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